by Kathryn McClatchy
Most writers have a love-hate relationship with social media. It’s consistently the best way to promote your author brand and books as well as build an engaged community of readers who love you and your work for little to no cash outlay. For many of us, though, the ever-changing platforms, algorithms, and best practices can be disheartening. Even on the best days, social media is often a distraction rather than a tool.
Here's a great resource for all kinds of internet and social media usage data for the last year, broken down by demographics, platforms, advertising, and more: “DIGITAL 2023 OCTOBER GLOBAL STATSHOT REPORT” from https://datareportal.com/. It might be a bit overwhelming, but it has great infographics to help one understand the online landscape better.
Google has been talking about E-A-T for a few years now, but with the extensive use of generative AI, they have added another E. This is good news for us, as their requirements and Quality Rater Guidelines for good content will almost certainly exclude most AI-created content. E-E-A-T stands for Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. To learn more about Google’s process for rating E-E-A-T, SEO, and more, read this article from Google. Fortunately for us, it’s what most authors already know and do, and will hopefully remove some of the fear of AI taking our jobs.
Facebook has become more user-friendly over the past year and has reversed some decline that was being observed a year ago. The biggest changes, however, are in Meta Ads. Still one of the top options for paid advertising as far as cost and customizable targeting, Meta is currently rolling out AI assistance in creating ads, and has recently partnered with Zapier and HubSpot for CRM integrations. While these tools are exciting, what you need to know is that if you use Meta advertising, make sure your ads look and feel like a personalized post or Reel, and be sure to follow the Google E-E-A-T protocol.
Instagram is probably the best at keeping its users up to date with changes. Adam Mosseri, the head of IG, posts regular weekly Reels letting us know what's rolling out, what’s in development, and why. He also has a Broadcast Channel for creators where he shares even more behind-the-scenes info that is relevant to us.
TikTok, while still rather new among the leading social media platforms, is evolving quickly. They've released a customized-for-you feed, 15-minute-long videos, shut down their creator fund, and expanded “out of phone” TikTok ads to show on billboards, cinema screens, and elsewhere.
X/Twitter has been in the news for over a year, and Elon Musk has been a controversial figure for several reasons. I’ve always coached my clients to focus on the 2-3 platforms they enjoy and where their people are. If you still like Twitter, and your community is still active there, then stay. The pendulum seems to be leveling out, and a lot of good things are happening on that platform.
As of the last six months, ROI on advertising has been the best of all social media platforms. It’s cost-effective, gets great results, and is outperforming both Facebook/Meta and TikTok. As of this month, X/Twitter is still one of the top 15 platforms (out of over 250 social media sites) in the world based on monthly active users.
YouTube is a perennial favorite among users, creators, and businesses. It’s only been considered a social media platform over the last few years, as it’s technically the second largest search engine in the world, owned by Google, the largest search engine in the world. With the addition of improved commenting options, community features that mimic other traditional social media platforms, and the introduction of YT Shorts, this platform is currently getting the most use by viewers and creators, and has the best direct correlation between content and sales.
LinkedIn changed pretty dramatically through the pandemic with people working from home. It has become less of an online resume site and more like old Facebook for the professional set. It boasts the highest average level of income and education among its users of any platform. If you are targeting well-educated readers who have discretionary income, love to travel, and are interested in thought leadership, then make sure you are active on LinkedIn.
Reddit has released an API in preparation for its upcoming IPO, that will allow users to get actual analytics, and soon we will be able to use scheduling software to plan posts ahead of time. This venue is already one of the top social media platforms and is also preparing to level up its advertising capabilities. This is a channel to consider as you look to build community with your readers.
BeReal is the fastest fastest-growing emergent social media platform. This is an interesting app that is building amazing communities based on candid photos showing you and where you are. Currently, there are no advertising options. If you miss the days when Instagram was purely a photo-sharing app, this might be a good option for you.
Substack is disrupting how we write newsletters and blog posts. Founded in 2017, it now boasts over 500,000 users, a 5-year search growth of 7,500%. It also introduced Notes in 2023 which is a cross between old-school Twitter and Instagram.
What are your biggest challenges with social media in 2024? How do you feel about the changes?
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I realize this article was pretty dense. If you made it this far, you are my people! I have a monthly newsletter, Unleashing, that provides digital marketing updates, suggestions, current best practices, and more that you might enjoy. It is designed for those who would rather practice their craft than keep up with the marketing side of their art (authors, artists, musicians, artisans, designers, etc.).
If you are interested in knowing more about me or Unleashing the Next Chapter, here you go:
Kathryn McClatchy has been writing since childhood, working in marketing since the 80s, and blogging since 2012 as Unleashing the Next Chapter. She is also the founder and facilitator of the annual Writers Guild of Texas Flash Fiction Contest and host of the Authorpreneurs Unleashed podcast.
Unleashing the Next Chapter has grown into a boutique digital marketing agency serving creative entrepreneurs and their communities through coaching, strategy, and management. UtNC focuses on holistic marketing with an emphasis on Brand, Content, Email, Research, and Social Media. Kathryn is passionate about helping writers and writing organizations learn how to use digital media to build their brands and serve their communities.
Kathryn is a wife, mother, stroke survivor, and service dog partner. She is happily addicted to books, tea, chocolate, D&D, and houseplants (not consistently in that order).
Wishing you a creative and productive 2024!
All images provided by Kathryn McClatchy are either her original work or are linked to their source.
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